February is a month filled with love. Thoughts spoken from the heart and gifts given from the heart. It is a time to share your love for others. But I challenge you to show yourself some love as well! So in honor of Valentine’s Day, be more heart-centered this month and make your health a priority. Love your body.
A great way to stay centered and focused on yourself spiritually and mentally is through the practice of Yoga. Many of the poses in yoga involve placing your hands at heart center. It reminds you to be in harmony with yourself. It connects you with feelings of love, compassion, joy, and freedom. It is the center in which you feel. Yoga does way more than spiritual and mental work though as it is primarily physical. Those of you who have tried a hot yoga class know what I am talking about. It is tough work! You have to convince yourself you are strong enough to make it until the end or else you will end up in corpse pose sooner than planned.
From a physical standpoint, yoga does wonders for your flexibility, core strength, and balance. Improving flexibility is the obvious benefit. The more you practice the stretches, the deeper into the stretch you should be able to get as the muscle elasticity improves. Just think, you could be doing a split soon if you really work at it! Your core strength will improve as well because most of the poses require balance and stability. You would be amazed by how many athletes walk into my physical therapy clinic with great strength but poor balance (girls & guys). All it takes is practice.
So try these four exercises below in order to become heart-centered and more limber. If you enjoy it, take a look into more stretching and yoga-based programs. Or how about a couples yoga date for Valentine’s Day? Enjoy being a yoga casanova this month.
#1 Twisting Chair Pose: Begin in a deep squat with feet together and hands at heart center. Twist your torso to one side and look up. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
#2 Tree Pose: Stand on one leg and bring the other foot up to your inner thigh (a modification is to bring the foot only to the ankle or knee). With your hands at heart center, hold this position for 1 minute.
#3 Warrior One Pose: Start in a lunge position with the front leg bent and the back leg straight. Lunge down low, look up, clasp your hands, and reach your arms straight overhead. Hold this position for 30 seconds.
#4 Sumo Sunrise Setup: Start in a sumo squat (legs wide and toes turned out) with your hands at heart center. Action: Then circle your arms down, out, and up to meet overhead as you inhale. Then exhale and circle your arms back down to heart center as you squat back down. Repeat 20 times with deep breaths.